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I have been with the same company for 19 years. We receive annual bonuses. We have to do performance reviews quarterly and our bonuses reflect our performance, etc. This year, my bonus has decreased by over 1k within the past two years.

I did speak to my department's assistant manager regarding this issue and she said she wasn't aware and my performance review is good.

Should I bring this up to my upper management?


Update i emailed my Senior Manager just to get an understanding. Its been a week and he has yet to respond and we work in the same office. I feel as if he is avoiding the question or just doesn't care to explain. –

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    Typically bonuses are tied to the company's performance as well as individual employee performance. Is your company doing as well as it did in prior years?
    – ColleenV
    Nov 27, 2023 at 15:53
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    Is wasting money an indicator of good performance?
    – DonQuiKong
    Nov 27, 2023 at 21:51
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    Was it just you whose bonus was reduced, or did they reduce the baseline across the board?
    – Barmar
    Nov 28, 2023 at 5:05
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    Is there a published set of rules which dictates how bonuses are allocated? In some companies this would be in your contract, in others it could be company-wide, in others still on a per-team basis...
    – jcaron
    Nov 28, 2023 at 17:39
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    That's the thing with bonuses, though. The company can take them away at any time. I once worked at a place where they said they gave bonuses instead of raises which already had me annoyed. Then, when the company had a good year, they reduced the bonuses for my department with no (logical) explanation. I'm happy I don't work there anymore.
    – JimmyJames
    Nov 29, 2023 at 17:42

3 Answers 3

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I did speak to my departments Assistant manager regarding this issue and she said she wasn't aware

"OK, will you find out what's going on for me please?"

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    Depending on your working environment, you might even phrase it as: "could you find out[...]" which is more of a question than a demand, if you're on good term and don't want to pressure.
    – Clockwork
    Nov 28, 2023 at 8:54
  • Update i emailed my Senior Manager just to get an understanding. Its been a week and he has yet to respond and we work in the same office. I feel as if he is avoiding the question or just doesn't care to explain.
    – St Ro
    Nov 30, 2023 at 10:28
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    @StRo so go to whoever is your actual official line manger and keep asking the question, either until you get an answer or they tell you to go away. Nov 30, 2023 at 10:38
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Yes, ask the question is always an answer I would suggest to anyone in this scenario.

In life (but in the workplace in particular) I've always considered the saying:

If you don't ask, you don't get

It's not an amazing saying but it certainly applies here; you won't get more unless you ask for it. The caveat to this is that if you were being "given more", you probably wouldn't be asking for "more" in the first place.

You've been at the company for a long time, and I would like to assume that you've worked hard in that time and particularly over the past 12 months, with the aim of bringing home that bonus.

You've already asked about it to a higher-up, but I would say that you should ask again to understand, specific to your case, as to how your bonus has been decided, and why yours is the value that it is.
They've said:

"Your review was good"

To which I would reply something like:

"I believe it was too but this has demotivated me, the decrease last year was X, and so I strived harder this year to address any issues and to improve this time around; for it to decrease again has really taken me by surprise. Could we discuss this further or in more depth?"

I would:

  1. Start the discussion in person with the more senior member that you're closest to
    something like the above
  2. Follow up with an email
    build the paper-trail
  3. Ready any evidence that would improve your case
    Emails, notes, notable successes, explanations for "failings" if any

Typically, the reason has been one of only a couple of things:

  1. The person making the decision has no real reason for having reduced the bonus
    This is probably the best reason because you have a better chance at improving the bonus if there's no real reasons for why you didn't get that bonus
  2. The company may be having some financial pressures
    Getting more common in the past couple of years with inflation on the rise some businesses struggling to "return to normal" after COVID
  3. A new higher-up has simply taken issue with giving bonuses to the company or a given department
    I would say this is rare
  4. A new higher-up has taken issue with you personally This is very rare, but I have seen this happen to my Dad actually.
    He started received terrible performance reviews (after 5+ years of great ones) when he got a new manager
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  • Thank you for your comment. This was really helpful. 3 & 4 reasons are indeed true. I dont think he has a issue with me personally. I'm a quiet individual and so im overlooked most of the time. I work in accounting so im aware of the finances. I have accomplished and contributed alot to the company i save them thousands of dollars a year as well as bring money back to the company. With no incentives besides my bonus. The company has a high turnover and so they payout thousands of dollars in incentives to try to get people to stay. But what about the people like me that has contributed alot.
    – St Ro
    Nov 27, 2023 at 10:31
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    @StRo - I normally would say that, during tough economic times, companies will decrease bonuses do not increase them. However, if a company has a high rate of turnover, that typically is a result of their policies surrounding monetary compensation. Since you have stayed around for 19 years, you will likely be paid only enough, to keep you satisfied. Companies over expanded the last couple of years, they took on more help, because everyone was working for home. Now that society is returning to normal, companies have realized, they over expanded and have started to shrink.
    – Donald
    Nov 27, 2023 at 16:25
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    @StRo - Here is some friendly advice, a yearly bonus, is not guaranteed. If your lifestyle is based on that bonus you have received in the past, then you should look at your spending habits, and make the required adjustments based on your actual yearly compensation.
    – Donald
    Nov 27, 2023 at 16:27
  • Thank you for your comment. I contemplated on bringing it up. I actually work in the finance department so I'm aware. I contribute so much through the years with making the company money. And they just randomly give 1k to production associates just to get them stay meanwhile I'm getting a decrease to satisfy someone who wont work a week.
    – St Ro
    Nov 27, 2023 at 18:34
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    @StRo You summed it up in the comment above: "The company has a high turnover and so they payout thousands of dollars in incentives to try to get people to stay." Either your role isn't considered sufficiently important to incentivise you, or you're considered unlikely enough to leave that they can afford to upset you a bit. Bonuses are intended to be big enough to achieve what the company wants, no more. Nov 27, 2023 at 20:06
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Note that bonuses and raises also reflect how well the company is doing and how much they feel they can give the employees. Great performance increases the likelihood they will want to reward you and may get you a larger share of that budget (depending on how your company handles this), but the details are always subject to change.

Ask your manager, or HR, what the current process and expectations are. And remember that a bonus is just that, a bonus, not an entitlement.

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    Exactly. A bonus is additional compensation that a company can usually completely drop in the case of a financial bad year. It allows them to give employees more money, but does not obligate them to continue giving the additional money as they would if they just gave out a raise. Nov 27, 2023 at 17:26

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